Best Ever Vegan Mac

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet

I’ve been holding onto this for a while now, but I’ve been getting a lot requests for the recipe lately, so it’s time to share!  Most of my clients are dairy-free (I’ve actually been avoiding dairy as well in order to cut back on inflammatory joint pain), which means comfort food that they can enjoy within their dietary restrictions is a very important part of my repertoire.  Vegan mac is definitely a “go-to”.

This mac satisfies all kinds of cravings, with a super savory sauce and crunchy topping, but it’s very nutritious.  Instead of cheese, butter and flour, the sauce is made of cashews, nutritional yeast and spices (turmeric!!).  Thus, instead of empty carbs and loads of saturated fat, you get protein, fiber, anti-inflammatory anthocyanins and healthy fats!

Bring this to your next football party or serve it to vegetarians at your Thanksgiving dinner with a side of cranberry sauce ;).

COOKING NOTES:

Do not skip the cauliflower!  Cauliflower is not a randomly added vegetable.  It has a deep umami flavor that makes the mac more “cheesy”.

Since the sauce is nut based, you’ll need to thin it out quite a bit with pasta water, as it will thicken over time.  If you accidentally throw out the pasta water, don’t worry, you can use regular water or broth to thin.

Best Ever Vegan Mac:

Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small/medium head cauliflower

12 ounces pasta (brown rice pasta is best for gluten-free, as it’s thicker than quinoa or corn based ones)

1 cup pasta cooking water

½ cup parsley, finely chopped (can make extra for garnish)

salt and pepper, to taste

For the vegan “cheese” sauce:

1½ cups raw cashews, preferably soaked 2-3 hours and strained

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Dijon or yellow mustard

panko or crumbled potato chips

turmeric and paprika, for garnish

Heat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend all of the ingredients for the “cheese” sauce in a blender until smooth, about a minute.

Sweat shallot and garlic in a large pan. Add cauliflower with ½ cup water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until just tender.

Cook pasta in salted water until it’s about a minute undercooked. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and strain.

Mix the pasta, cauliflower, parsley and “cheese” sauce.  Place in oiled 9×9 baking dish.  Place in oven and bake until crispy, about 20 minutes:

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet

Remove from oven and, if using panko, top with panko and spray/drizzle with oil.  Place under broiler for 2 minutes, until browned.

If using crumbled potato chips, skip the panko/broiler step and just sprinkle the top with chip crumbs just before serving.  Dash the top with turmeric, paprika and parsley to garnish.

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet


Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto Integrale alla Zucca)

Yes, I am one of those people who get pumpkin fever, without fail, every fall.  If I drank coffee, pumpkin spice latte would be MY JAM.  For me, and I think for many people, pumpkin spice brings back memories of putting on your hat, running outside and jumping into a pile of leaves before they get bagged up.

If you’re overloaded with pumpkin bread and PSL (pumpkin spice lattes), try this savory option for a change.  This recipe is special, as it’s a recipe that I learned while living in Marano sul Panaro, a remote town outside of Modena, Italy eleven(!) years ago.

Since those years, however, I’ve swapped the white Carnaroli rice for brown rice or farro.  Not only do the whole grains heighten the nutrition and reduce the glycemic load, I think they add wonderful flavor and body as well.  (Do not use long grain rice for any risotto, as it’s delicate and fluffy and will turn to mush.  Long grain and jasmine varieties are best suited for pillowy pilafs.)  If you decide to use farro, just note that your risotto will no longer be gluten free.

I like to use fresh creamy almond or cashew milk as a finisher rather than whole milk.  However, in Italy we used extremely fresh milk from grass-fed cows that lived next door- if you’re gonna have dairy, that is definitely the way to go.

Finishing with fresh cilantro sounds incredibly non-Italian, but this is traditional!  Cilantro really brightens up the mellow sweetness of the pumpkin and the earthiness of the nutmeg- don’t skip it.  (If you hate cilantro, fresh parsley or sage will do.)

Happy fall and buon appetito!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto - The Clean Gourmet

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or grass fed butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion or 2 shallots, minced

1 cup sweet brown rice, short grain brown rice or farro

1 bay leaf (sage leaf or orange leaf are great alternatives)

2 cups light vegetable broth or chicken stock

1 cup water

2/3 cup pumpkin purée from kabocha, sugar pie, red kuri or blue hubbard pumpkin (instructions below)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup creamy unsweetened nut milk or organic whole milk from grass-fed cows

1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper (about 5 turns on a grinder)

grated parmesan, to serve

cilantro, to serve

What to do:

For the pumpkin purée (can be made up to four days in advance):

First prepare the pumpkin mixture.  Cook pumpkin of choice by cutting in half and placing, cut side down, on an oiled parchment-lined sheet pan and baking at 400  degrees F.  Cook until a fork pierces the skin easily, more or less 40 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin.  Remove from oven and let cool.

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

Scoop flesh from pumpkin and purée in a food processor or push through a ricer or food mill. For this recipe you’ll need about one cup of purée.  Use remaining pumpkin for other purposes (Pinterest “pumpkin recipes” and you’ll see that there is a lifetime of possibilities) or plan on doubling, tripling or quadrupling the recipe to make croquettes out of leftover risotto;).

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

For the risotto:

Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a medium pot.  Add onion/shallot with the salt and sweat for about 5 minutes, until translucent.  (Reduce heat if you start to see any browning.)

Add rice or farro and bay leaf and toast in pot for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 2 cups of broth, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove lid and add the remaining cup of water slowly, while stirring frequently.  When rice is halfway cooked and the liquid absorbed, add pumpkin purée, lemon zest, nutmeg and water.  Continue stirring another few minutes.  The grains at this point should be tender, but chewy (a.ka.a. “al dente”).  Turn off the heat and stir in the milk and a touch of lemon juice to finish.

Serve immediately and top with cilantro (and parmesan, if using).  A glass of dry white wine will go very nicely…just saying :).


Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Summer is NOT over!  Make these Herbed Zucchini Cakes while zucchini is still dirt cheap at the market and your neighbors are still drowning in zucchini from their backyards.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

These really don’t take long to make and are great as an appetizer for guests or as a light main course.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

I use almond flour to bind the patties, as it lends body and more flavor than breadcrumbs or flour do.  It also happens to make this dish paleo and gluten-free :).  Just make sure to wring the zucchini out well so that when making the patties they’ll come together without having to add extra almond flour.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Don’t make these unless you plan on having some kind of sauce!  Tangy sheep’s milk yogurt and lime, along with fresh mint, is the best way to do these puppies justice.  If you’re vegan or dairy free (or not…), they’re also great with Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes:

Serves 2

2 cups grated zucchini, from 2 medium zucchini

½ cup grated potato, from 1 small potato

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

2 teaspoons finely chopped mint

zest of 1 lime (about 1/2 teaspoon)

4 turns black pepper

about 1/3 cup almond flour (add more, if needed)

1 tablespoon avocado oil, for cooking

Place grated zucchini and potato in a colander and toss with salt.  Let drain in sink or large bowl while you prepare the remaining ingredients and dipping sauce.

In a large bowl, mix together egg, parsley, thyme, mint, lime zest and black pepper.

Wring out zucchini with clean dish towel- the drier you get it, the less almond flour you will need!  Add wrung zucchini and almond flour to bowl with other ingredients and combine.  Form into patties (this is where you’ll realize whether or not you need more almond flour).

Heat a large pan with avocado oil over medium-high heat.  Form patties with zucchini mixture and sear on pan, 2-3 minutes each side.

Serve with Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce or Creamy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Summer Sauce.

Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1 6-oz container sheep’s milk yogurt

1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 juicy lime)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Stir yogurt, lime juice and mint together in a small bowl.


Hungarian Beef and Mushrooms

I’ve been getting a lot of “paleo” and “whole30” clients lately, meaning people who do not eat grains, legumes (including peanuts) and often no dairy, except butter.  All meat should be organic and red meat/dairy should be grass-fed to ensure proper omega-6:omega-3 fatty acid ratios, so as to prevent inflammation.  Unlike the original Atkins diet (another grain-free, low carb diet), paleo and Whole30 diets emphasize eating plenty of vegetables and high quality proteins, while limiting processed foods, such as deli meats, bacon, etc.

Sauerkraut and yogurt add tang and probiotics, while matching perfectly with this Hungarian-style dish.  If you have higher caloric/carbohydrate needs, serve this with egg noodles rather than spaghetti squash.

*Note that this only serves 2-3 people, so you may need to double the recipe if you have guests or a family.

Hungarian Beef and Mushrooms - The Clean Gourmet

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

For the Beef and Mushrooms:

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ yellow onion, cut into 1/4″ strips

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, minced

8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 sprigs fresh tarragon, picked or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 cup red wine

1/3 cup low sodium beef or vegetable broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

10 turns of black pepper

.6 lb sirloin or flank steak, cut against the grain into 2″ strips, 1/4″ thick

1/3 cup fresh picked dill, coarsely chopped

To serve:

baked spaghetti squash or egg noodles

sauerkraut or vinegary sautéed cabbage

Bulgarian yogurt or whole Greek yogurt (or a spritz of lemon juice if dairy-free)

What to do:

In a cast iron skillet or medium dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and shallot until soft, about 5  minutes.  Next, add the mushrooms and brown, stirring occasionally.  Once you get some nice color, add the paprika, nutmeg or allspice, tarragon and red wine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, until most of the wine is evaporated.

Add broth, salt, pepper and beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in dill.

Serve over spaghetti squash and sauerkraut.  Top with yogurt.

Hungarian Beef and Mushrooms - The Clean Gourmet


Pecan Milk…with Warm Mesquite Variation (Latte di Noce Pecan…con Variazione Calda al Mesquite)

Pecan milk has changed my life in a small, yet significant way.

I essentially stumbled upon pecan milk this weekend when I was making a Marsala mushroom soup and, rather than using 3/4 cup of half-and-half that the recipe called for, I thought I’d “clean” it up a bit and try it with nut milk.  Pecans sounded like they’d combine well with mushrooms and Marsala, so I figured, “why not?”  Even better, the higher fat content in pecans would make the milk less prone to curdling- a problem I often face with fresh almond milk, even when tempered.

I was ecstatic with the results!  Not only was the milk delicious on its own, it paired excellently with the flavors in the soup and didn’t curdle.  I’m not sure why almond milk gets all the spotlight.  While almond milk is delicious (especially mine 😉 ) and definitely more versatile than, say, pistachio or peanut milk, pecan milk is also quite versatile, yet it’s creamier, deeper in flavor and, because of a higher fat content, is less likely to curdle than almond milk.

One Medjool date and a pinch of salt lend the milk just enough of that sweet/savory balance you get from cow’s milk and the nuttiness is mild and bourbon-like.  Not bad :).

Health Benefits: A one ounce serving of pecans contains 60% of the daily value of manganese, which is especially good for brain function, heart health and metabolism of carbohydrates and fat.  You will also get 15% of the daily value of copper from a one ounce serving of pecans, which benefits your nervous system, cellular energy output and connective tissue.*

Step aside almond milk!

Yields 2 cups

What you need:

1 cup raw pecan halves (plus water for soaking)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Medjool date

2 cups cold water

What to do:

Place pecans in a medium bowl and fill with water two inches to cover.  Let soak at room temperature for 8-10 hours.

Strain and rinse soaked pecans and place in a blender with the salt, date and 2 cups of water.  Blend on HIGH until smooth and there are no more large specks of pecan meat.  This should only take 30 seconds in a high speed blender (A.K.A. Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja).  Allow 1-2 minutes for a normal blender.

Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or two layers of cheesecloth placed over a bowl or large measuring cup and squeeze to extract all of the liquid.  The consistency will be creamy and smooth.  Pour milk into desired storage cup and refrigerate.  Should last about four days in the refrigerator.

Mesquite variation:

You’ll also find that pecan and mesquite were meant to be together: for a cozy night cap or soothing breakfast, make this into a warm mesquite milk.  Place 2 1/2 teaspoons mesquite powder, 1 teaspoon raw honey and a pinch of salt in a small pot.  Slowly whisk in one cup of pecan milk and warm gently over a low flame, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.  Do not boil.  Pour warmed milk into a mug and serve immediately.  Mmm.

Pecan Milk (Latte di Noce Pecan) - The Clean Gourmet

Latte di Noce Pecan:

Rende 500 ml

Cosa serve:

100 grammi di noce pecan dimezzate (più acqua per mettere a mollo)

1/4 cucchiaino di sale

1 dattero Medjool

500 ml d’acqua fresca

Come fare:

Mettete le noci pecan in una scodella e coprite d’acqua con circa tre dita da coprire.  Lasciate ammollare per circa 8-10 ore a temperatura ambiente.

Colate e sciacquate le noci e mettete in un mixer col sale, il dattero Medjool e l’acqua fresca.  Fate frullare al livello max finché non siano più pezzetti visibili di noce.  Dovrebbero bastare solo 30 secondi in un mixer potente (come Vitamix, Blendtec o Ninja).  Per un mixer normale, fate frullare per 1-2 minuti.

Passate il liquido per due strati di stamigna sopra una ciotola media e stringete bene per fare sì che sia estratto tutto il liquido.  Troverete una consistenza cremosa e liscia.  Versate il latte in un bicchiere da conservazione e mettete in frigo.  Consumatelo entro circa quattro giorni.

Versione al mesquite: 

Troverete che noce pecan e il mesquite vanno benissimo assieme:  per una merendina prima di letto o come una prima colazione leggera, fate un latte al mesquite caldo.  Mettete 2 1/2 cucchiaini di polvere di mesquite, 1 cucchiaino di miele crudo ed un pizzico di sale in un pentola piccola.  Gradualmente unite 250 ml di latte di noce pecan e riscaldate leggermente sul fuoco basso, frustando frequentemente, per circa 4 minuti.  Non fate bollire il latte.  Versate il latte caldo in una tazza, preferibilmente riscaldata, e servitelo subito.

*Sources:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/walnuts-vs-pecans-nutrition-1576.html

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/pecans.html


Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela)

If you went apple picking like me and got a TON of apples, I’m sure you’re coming up with all kinds of uses for those apples.  I always to try to keep the skins on when I’m cooking and baking with apples, but unfortunately, some recipes just don’t work with the skins.  In my case, I wanted pectin-free creamy applesauce so I had to peel my apples.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to throw away the most nutritious part of all those apples!

While it is important to buy all or as much organic produce as possible, it is especially important to buy organic apples.  The Environmental Working Group, who puts together the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Lists, has put apples as the most chemical-contaminated produce this year!  Sure they cost more, but you’ll probably save on doctor’s bills in the long run anyway buy buying organic apples instead of conventionally grown ones.

Like most fruits and vegetables, the majority of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are found in the peel, which will help control blood sugar and protect you from various diseases.  Apple peel’s unique attribute is that it’s very high in ursolic acid, which promotes muscle growth and reduction of body fat, with a higher proportion of brown fat to white fat (which is beneficial for diabetes prevention and healthy aging).  For more information, check out the links below*.  If you want to enjoy these health benefits of the peel without a side of pesticides, I again stress that you buy organic.

This is probably the easiest recipe I’ve posted so far, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it!  Note that I put the apples into a cold oven and then turn the heat on, as this allows for some low temperature dehydration.  I then turn the oven off and wait for it to cool completely before taking the skins out for the same purpose.  I do not have a dehydrator and this method is working for me, but I imagine you could use a dehydrator to get similar results.

*Main Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/never-peel-apple_n_4791328.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2000392/Apple-peel-helps-build-muscle-control-weight.html

What to do:

Peel your apples and arrange the peels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven.  Turn oven on to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 30-40 minutes, tossing once or twice.  When the skins are mostly dry and crisp, turn the oven off and leave pan in there until oven cools down to ensure full dehydration.

Enjoy alone for snacking, steeped in hot water as a “tea” or as a crunchy topping on salad, oatmeal or whatever you can think of!

Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela) - The Clean Gourmet

Come fare:

Sbucciate delle mele e spargete le bucce su una teglia foderata di carta pergamena e infornate (il forno deve essere freddo).  Accendete il forno e impostate a 150 gradi centigradi e lasciate per circa 30-40 minuti, girando una o due volte.  Quando le bucce sono abbastanza essiccate e croccanti, spegnete il forno e lasciate infornate le bucce finché il forno non sia raffreddata, così per essiccare bene le bucce.

Graditele da sole per spuntini, nell’acqua calda come una tisana oppure come un condimento sull’insalata, sui cereali caldi or qualunque cosa alla quale riuscite a pensare!


Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

I was blessed with these gorgeous zucchini blossoms, thanks to my mom’s contractor, who happens to have three acres in upstate Connecticut and, apparently, plenty of zucchini plants.  Just because winter is coming doesn’t mean beautiful produce ends.

I usually like to toss squash blossoms into saffron risotto at the end of cooking.  However, with such a big bag of blossoms I felt I had enough that I could do some experimenting.  I knew I wanted to try stuffing them, but usually that includes a breadcrumb filling followed by deep frying.  I wanted to make them gluten free and definitely not fried, as I prefer to avoid heating oils to such high levels.

This combo seems to straddle summer and fall, with herbs like basil, mint and thyme, heavily sprinkled into a mixture of goat cheese, lemon and sweet potato.

This is a beta-carotene-filled snack, thanks to the orange petals and the sweet potatoes.  Also, the fresh herbs have highly concentrated amounts of phytochemicals, which ward off viruses and other more serious ailments.  In particular, mint is known to calm digestion, which especially important for those who struggle with IBS.  Also, basil is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory, which is key for those who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain.  In addition, the oils in thyme are shown to be highly antimicrobial, which means consuming more thyme helps fight bad bacteria so you don’t get sick as easily.  Sounds better than that multivitamin, no?

You definitely want to serve these nutritional tasties immediately while hot, as they lose their texture a bit as they sit and the petals lose their crisp.  I think they’re great alone, but you could serve with a mildly flavored dipping sauce as an appetizer or top a salad or risotto with them.


Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

What you need:

2 medium/large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, plus more for drizzling

11-15 zucchini blossoms, stamens removed

4 ounces soft goat cheese

5 sprigs fresh thyme, picked

1/3 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (plus more, very thinly sliced, for serving)

1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

one lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon of juice)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

salt, to taste

2 eggs, lightly whipped

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toss sweet potato chunks with oil and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.

While sweet potatoes roast, mix together goat cheese, thyme leaves, mint, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

When sweet potatoes are crisp-tender (about 20 minutes), put in bowl with goat cheese mixture and mash together with a fork.  Taste for lemon, salt and pepper.  Adjust as needed and add eggs.  Mix well.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Line the same baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment and lightly grease with oil.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Using a small spoon, scoop the goat cheese-sweet potato mixture into blossoms (it’s okay if they split, just wrap the petals around the stuffing) and arrange on prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re beginning to brown and crisp.  They will also be nice and puffy :).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Sprinkle with thinly sliced mint and serve alone or with a dipping sauce.  I like my Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce ;).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

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Winter Citrus and Escarole Salad (Insalata Invernale di Agrumi e Scarola)

This is a result of healthy/seasonal food cravings after having an heavy lunch this past Sunday.  It completely hit the spot…If you want to be “fancy” you can serve at as in the picture, but feel free to chop up the escarole and orange for easier communal serving.

This is a good side to accompany a white fish, cannellini beans or marinated tempeh.  I like the balance of multiple acids, which is why I use lemon juice over oranges with a touch of apple cider vinegar to balance the lemon.  However, if you don’t have any good apple cider vinegar on hand, I recommend you just use more lemon juice in its place.

I highly recommend that you mix the dressing before preparing the vegetables to allow the flavors to marry and to allow the dried mint to open up in the liquid.  Also, be sure to rinse the escarole well as it can be quite sandy.

I hope you enjoy my first NY recipe!

What you need:

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons walnut or extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or more lemon juice)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

juice from 1 tablespoon grated ginger (simply squeeze it in the palm of your hand or through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag and discard the fiber)

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1 shallot)

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

1 head escarole, leaves removed from core, well rinsed and dried in a salad spinner or on a clean dish towel

1 orange, peel and pith removed with your knife and sliced into 1/4″ slices

5 radishes, thinly sliced

chia seeds, for sprinkling

What to do:

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Assembly:*

Arrange in layers: escarole leaf, orange slice, radish slice.  Repeat three times per plate.

Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle chia seeds.

*You can also chop the escarole leaves and quarter the orange slices to toss in a communal bowl with the radish slices, dressing and chia seeds.

Insalata Invernale di Agrumi e Scarola:

Cosa serve:

Per la salsa:

2 cucchiai di succo di limone

2 cucchiai d’olio di noce o extra vergine d’oliva

1 cucchiaio d’aceto di mele

1 cucchiaio di sciroppo d’acero

succo d’un cucchiaio di zenzero grattugiato (semplicemente stringetelo tra i palmi e raccogliete il succo, scartando le fibre)

2 cucchiai di scalogno, tritato (circa un scalogno)

1/2 cucchiaino di menta essiccata

1/2 cucchiaino di sale marino

pepe nero macinato

Per l’insalata:

1 grappolo di scarola, foglie separate dal torsolo e ben lavate ed asciugate (consiglio di asciugarle in una centrifuga scolaverdure o in uno strofinaccio)

1 arancia, pelata (inclusa la parte fibrosa) e tagliata in fette da circa un centimetro

5 ravanelli, affettate sottilmente

semi di cia, per cospargere

Cosa fare:

Frustate gli ingredienti per la salsa in una scodella piccola e mettete da parte.

Preparazione:*

Mettete in strati su ogni piatto: una foglia di scarola, una fetta d’arancia ed una fetta di ravanello.  Ripetete tre volte per ogni piatto.

Fate cadere gocce di salsa e cospargete i semi di cia sulla verdura.

*Potete anche servire in un’insalatiera grande, tagliando la scarola e facendo pezzetti d’arancia per unire al ravanello, la salsa ed i semi di cia.

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Mexican Wild Rice Salad (Insalata di Riso Selvatico alla Messicana)

I finally made the move to NY to begin the Chef’s Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute and once again have INTERNET!  Here is the last meal I made pre-move…a whole foods approach to Ameri-Mex fare.   It is both winter and summer friendly…serve it warm in the winter (leftovers sauté nicely) or cold in the summer (great for picnics and barbecues).  Add the jalapeño if you like some heat.

Wild rice is especially high in fiber and vitamins compared to other types of rice (it’s not really a rice, actually) and yes, it’s gluten free.  I hear the Native American hand cultivated wild rice is the best in quality, nutrition and taste, but I have yet to try it.  In the meantime, I use the common black variety.

About the corn…if it’s summer, get it fresh, slice the kernels right off the cob and throw it in the water with the asparagus.  However, this time of year you’ll want to go ahead and get it frozen.  Don’t worry about cooking it, it will thaw as the rice cooks and especially once it’s tossed with the warm rice.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice, soaked for 2-8 hours and rinsed

3 cups light vegetable broth or well salted water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heads Belgian endive (red or white), cut into 1/2″ slices

1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 golden beet*, peeled and chopped into small chunks

1 bunch fresh asparagus, stems snapped off and the rest cut into 1″ pieces

juice of 1 large (or 1 1/2 small) lemons

salt and black pepper, to taste

avocado, to serve

cilantro, rinsed well and finely chopped

What to do:

Begin to cook soaked wild rice in the broth or water, covered, in a medium pot.

In the meantime, place olive oil, endive, corn (if using frozen), jalapeño, cumin and thyme in a medium bowl and toss together.

After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add the beet chunks.  After 10 more minutes, begin to test the rice for doneness.  Once the rice is just a few minutes from doneness, add the asparagus (and corn if using fresh) and let steam with the rice.

Test the rice, asparagus and beet chunks to ensure doneness.  Pour into a strainer to allow everything to cool and to let any excess water drain off (about 10 minutes).

Add cooled rice, lemon juice, salt and pepper to bowl with vegetables.  Toss gently and serve with sliced avocado and cilantro.

Great alongside roasted tomatillos and “refried” black beans :).

*Unfortunately, I didn’t have yellow beet for this photo and had to use turnip instead.

Mexican Wild Rice Salad - The Clean Gourmet

Insalata di Riso Selvatico alla Messicana:

4-6 porzioni

Ingredienti:

200 gr di riso selvatico, impregnato per 2-6 ore e sciacquato

700 ml di brodo leggero oppure d’acqua salata

2 cucchiaini di olio d’oliva extra vergine

2 indivie, tagliate in pezzi a 1 cm

175 gr di mais fresco o 200 gr di mais surgelato

1 peperoncino fresco, tritato coi semi tolti (facoltativo)

1 cucchiaino di cumino in polvere

2 cucchiaini di timo fresco, tritato

1 barbabietola gialla, pelata e tagliata in cubetti

1 grappolo di asparagi, tagliati in pezzi da 2 cm coi gambi rimossi

succo di un limone grande

sale e pepe, a piacere

avocado, per servire

coriandolo fresco, tritato

Cosa fare:

Fate cuocere il riso selvatico nel brodo o nell’acqua, coperto, in una pentola media.

Intanto, metteteci l’olio, l’indivia, il mais (se congelato), il peperone piccante, il coriandolo, il cumino ed il timo in una scodella media e mescolate.

Dopo 15 minuti di cottura, aggiungete i pezzi di barbabietola al riso.  Dopo altri 10 minuti, cominciate a controllare il riso per la cottura.  Poco prima che sia pronto il riso, aggiungete i pezzi d’asparagi (ed il mais se usando fresco) e fateli ammorbidire col riso.

Controllate il riso e l’altra verdura per la cottura.  Scolate e lasciate raffreddare per una decina di minuti nel colino.

Unite il cotto al crudo ed aggiungete il succo di limone, del sale e del pepe.  Agitate e servite con delle fette d’avocado.

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Chili Tempeh with Rainbow Chard and Mesquite Mash (Tempe al Peperoncino con Bietole Colorate e Purea al Mesquite)

This recipe has a somewhat long list of ingredients, but is actually very simple to prepare.  You can prepare the spices for the marinade the night before and just mix the spices with the liquid and the tempeh in the morning.  The pumpkin seed sprinkle, however, I recommend preparing shortly before serving, so it’s nice and warm.

Mesquite flour is not really a flour, but a meal from the bean pods of the mesquite tree.  Mesquite is commonly used by Native Americans in the southwest part of North America and is very nutrient dense.  It is 25% fiber, 13% protein and is gluten free.  The taste is mildly smoky and somewhat sweet.  Don’t worry, it does not have the strong flavor associated with mesquite barbeque, whose flavor is derived from smoking the wood from the mesquite tree, rather than from ground bean pods.

I hope you like this vegan southwestern take on autumnal food :).

Chili Tempeh with Rainbow Chard and Mesquite Mash - The Clean Gourmet

Serves 4 

What you need:

For the Chili Tempeh:

1 8-oz package tempeh (I used 3-grain)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 T lime juice (from about 2 limes)

1 T apple cider vinegar

2 T grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp smoked paprika (or chipotle chili powder)

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1-2 dashes cayenne pepper (depending on how fresh it is and how much spice you like)

For the Mesquite  Mash:

2 acorn squash, halved

5 oz cooked (about 2/3 cup) chestnuts (could also try pecans, soaked for 2-3 hours)

2 tsp mesquite flour

Cilantro, coarsely chopped, to serve

For the Rainbow Chard:

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch rainbow chard, roughly chopped, keeping stems separate

1/2 cup vegetable broth or water

salt and pepper, to taste

For the Pumpkin Seed Sprinkle:

2/3 cup RAW pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt (Himalayan or Celtic are great)

What to do:

Prepare the marinade for the tempeh either in a shallow bowl or quart-size plastic bag.  Fillet the tempeh into two flat rectangles.  Cut each fillet into eight strips.  Toss with marinade and place in fridge for 3-8 hours.

For the mesquite mash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place squash halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the flesh.

While the squash is baking, prepare the pumpkin seed sprinkle.  Add raw pumpkin seeds and salt to a small foil-lined baking sheet or oven-proof pan and place on top rack of oven with the squash.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, checking for a light toast (I recommend using a timer, as they burn quickly).  Remove promptly once toasted and lift foil from the pan, to prevent them from burning.

Allow the seeds to cool for a few minutes, then add to food processor.  Pulse until coarsely ground.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside.  Simply wipe out the food processor, as you’ll need it for the mesquite mash.

Once the squash is cooked, remove from oven and flip halves cut side up to cool a bit.  Meanwhile, place the chestnuts in the food processor and pulse until you get a small crumble.  Add the mesquite flour and pulse once or twice.  Scoop squash flesh into food processor and pulse until mashed, but not completely smooth.  Pour into bowl, cover with foil and set aside.

For the rainbow chard, heat oil over medium heat in a medium pan and add garlic.  Sauté garlic for 1 minute, add chard stems and sauté another minute.  Add the rest of the chard, broth or water, salt and pepper.  Cover, turn heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the chard is cooking, turn oven to broil setting and place tempeh on a small baking sheet (do NOT use parchment paper, as it will burn under the broiler).  Place on highest rack and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, until slightly crispy (I would use a timer for this as well).

Now you can serve!  Place a dollop of the mesquite mash on a plate, top with rainbow chard and then 2 or 3 strips of chili tempeh.  Garnish with pumpkin seed sprinkle and cilantro.

Tempe al Peperoncino con Bietole Colorate e Purea al Mesquite:

4 porzioni

Cosa Serve:

Per il Tempe al Peperoncino:

1 confezione di tempe (io ho usato quello ai cereali)

3 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

2 cucchiai di succo di lime (da circa 2 lime)

1 cucchiaio di aceto di mele

2 cucchiai d’olio di vinacciolo o d’oliva

1 cucchiaino di sale marino

1 cucchiaino di paprica dolce

2 cucchiaini di paprica affumicata

2 cucchiaini di peperoncino in polvere

1/2 cucchiaino di pepe nero

1-2 pizzichi di peperoncino di Caienna (o a piacere, specialmente se è poco fresco)

Per la Purea al Mesquite:

2 zucchine, dimezzate

150 gm di castagne cotte (oppure di noce pecan, impregnate per 2-3 ore)

2 cucchiaini di farina di mesquite

coriandolo fresco, tritato, per servire

Per le Bietole Colorate:

2 cucchiaini di olio d’oliva extra vergine

4 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

1 grappolo di bietole colorate, tagliate coi gambi da parte

100 ml di brodo di verdura o d’acqua

sale e pepe, a piacere

Per il Condimento di Semi di Zucca:

1 manciata generosa di semi di zucca crudi

1/2 cucchiaino di sale

Cosa Fare:

Preparate la marinata per il tempe dentro una scodella oppure una sacchetto a gelo.  Tagliate il tempe in due filetti piatti.  Tagliate ogni filetto in otto pezzi.  Unite il tempe con la marinata e lasciate in frigo per 3-8 ore.

Per la purea al mesquite preriscaldate il forno a 200 gradi.  Metteteci le zucchine coi lati tagliati in giù in un vassoio da forno coperto di carta da forno.   Lasciate cuocere per circa 40 minuti, finché una forchetta non lo perfora facilmente.

Mentre le zucchine si cuociono, preparate il condimento di semi di zucca.  Mettete i semi di zucca e il sale in un vassoio da forno piccolo, coperto di carta stagnola e mettetelo in forno con le zucchine, ma sul ripiano più alto.  Lasciate i semi in forno per 5-8 minuti, giusto per tostarli (consiglio usare il contaminuti, dato che si brucino facilmente).  Appena tostati, rimuoverli subito dal forno e sollevate la carta stagnola dal vassoio per prevenire la bruciatura.

Fate i semi raffreddare un pò, poi metteteli nel robot da cucina.  Pulsate giusto per fare una polvere granulare.  Versateli in una scodella piccola e mettere da parte.  Non lavare il robot, perché servirà per la purea al mesquite.

Appena cotte le zucchine, rimuoverli dal forno e rovesciateli per raffreddare un pò.  In tanto che si raffreddino, mettete le castagne nel robot da cucina e pulsate per fare una sbriciolata.  Unite la farina di mesquite e pulsate altre due volte.  Aggiungete la polpa della zucchina e pulsate finché non sia una poltiglia (attenzione che non diventi troppo liscia).  Versate in una ciotola, coprite con carta stagnola e mettete da parte.

Per le bietole, scaldate l’olio in una pentola media sul fuoco medio e aggiungete  l’aglio.   Fate cuocere l’aglio per circa un minuto, aggiungete i pezzi dei gambi e fate cuocere un altro minuto.  Unite gli altri ingredienti.  Coprite, abbassate il fuoco e fate cuocere per 10 minuti, agitando ogni tanto.

Mentre le bietole si cuociono, preriscaldate il forno alla temperatura massima e ponete il tempe su un vassoio da forno piccolo (non usate la carta da forno, perché potrebbe bruciare).  Mettete sul ripiano più alto e fate cuocere per 5-7 minuti per ogni lato.  Dovrebbero essere scuriti, appena prima di bruciati (consiglio di usare il contaminuti).

Ora puoi servire!  Su un piatto mettete un mucchietto di purea di mesquite, delle bietole e 2 o 3 strisce del tempe.  Guarnite col condimento dei semi di zucca e con del coriandolo.

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